New York City Citizenship & Naturalization Lawyer
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U.S. citizenship comes with a variety of substantial benefits. These include protection from deportation, the right to vote, the ability to sponsor your foreign family members, the opportunity to work for the U.S. government, unrestricted travel, and more.
If you are not an official U.S. citizen, you have two ways of becoming one: demonstrating your birthright citizenship and completing the naturalization process. At The Law Office of Yifei He, PLLC, we have handled citizenship and naturalization cases involving a wide variety of issues. Whether you need help with the naturalization process, claiming birthright citizenship, or defending your rights as a citizen when your status has been questioned, we are dedicated to working for your best interests. When so much is at stake, why settle for anything less than extraordinary legal services?
Defining Birthright Citizenship Under the Constitution
Many people need to apply for citizenship through naturalization, but you may have an automatic claim to this status.
One would think the U.S. Constitution clearly denotes who counts as a citizen of the country. However, some language is relatively ambiguous, such as the requirement that those running for president or vice-president must be a “natural-born citizen,” without actually clarifying what this term means. The 14th Amendment also states that “all persons born” within the U.S. are also “citizens.”
But Title 8 U.S. Code § 1401 demonstrates that being born outside the physical boundaries of the United States does not automatically discount your citizenship.
This code extends “natural-born citizenship” to anyone who is:
- Born outside of the United States but whose parents are U.S. citizens. For this qualification, at least one parent must have resided within the country for a certain amount of time.
- Born outside of the United States, even if one parent has been designated as an alien, so long as the other parent is a U.S. citizen and has lived in the country for 5 years or more. This period can include military service or diplomatic duties.
- Born outside the country, so long as one parent is a national of the U.S. and the other is an actual citizen who has resided in the country for more than a year.
- Born in a territory possessed by the United States, provided that at least one parent is also a citizen and has lived in the U.S. for at least a year.
- Born before the date of May 24, 1934 to a father who is an alien, so long as the mother possesses United States citizenship and has lived within the U.S.
- Discovered within the U.S., even if their parentage cannot be discovered, so long as they were found when they were younger than 5 years old, and no one brings evidence of non-citizenship before they turn 21.
Navigating the Naturalization Process
If none of the above categories apply to you, you can still become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process. Before you begin, you will need to first obtain a green card (i.e. lawful permanent residency). You must be a lawful permanent resident for either 3 or 5 years, depending on other qualifications. You will also need to be 18 or older, and you cannot have left the U.S. for 30 or more months (with certain exceptions).
To apply for citizenship, you will use Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You will likely need to attend a biometrics appointment before your official interview with a USCIS officer. At this interview, you will need to defend your eligibility for citizenship, as well as demonstrate your basic knowledge of U.S. history and your ability to speak, read, and write English. If your application is accepted, you will take an Oath of Allegiance at your naturalization ceremony.
One requirement that is often problematic for citizenship applicants is “good moral character.” This attribute is valued highly by the courts, and even a minor misdemeanor can greatly hinder your cause. Our NYC citizenship and naturalization attorney understands exactly how “good moral character” is interpreted by USCIS, so we can effectively defend your circumstances and portray it in the best possible manner. Our legal team is highly successful at having clients’ criminal records expunged, even before the application process starts. If you retain The Law Office of Yifei He, PLLC for your naturalization application process, you can trust that you have a reliable legal professional fighting for your future. Reach out to our immigration attorney in New York today!
- Related Blog: How Do I Become A United States Citizen?